Fighting for creative space

In blogging terms it’s been a draught patch where much of what I’ve been experiencing and reflecting on hasn’t been stuff I could blog about. There are other reasons, but some of this has been because a good friend and ‘mother figure’ in the parish had died very suddenly last month, and although helping to take the services involved was a tremendous privilege and a joy, serving the family and the many friends she had in that way, took an emotional chunk out of me that didn’t leave space for blogging.

Trying to take stock a bit, I’ve turned back to the things I’ve learnt about myself this year.

Some of my personal journey in ministry this year has been finding the place and rhythm of those creative spaces, through which I can set aside the pressure of parish life, feel I can rest in God’s presence, and experience the fruit of the spirit. Having a spiritual director to poke, prod and encourage me has been a ‘God-send’.

The creativity of the spaces seems to be incredibly important to me, something that is produced from my time with God… it might be the means of connecting with God, or the result of that connection, but the creativity is important.

A view of the back of Alton Abbey

One of the most useful places have been Alton Abbey, where my reflections might take some written form, and feed my ministry in some way, as in with my struggle to connect with the Honesty of the Cross prior to leading the Hour at the Cross. At the Abbey the atmosphere is one soaked in prayer, the offices, surrounded by beautiful scenery and… laughter (on arrival and at tea with the monks). I never fail to come back refreshed and smiling!

The other successful ‘creative space’ has been the complete focus of concentration in the act of fly-fishing, which brings with it a great sense of peace and joy – things that it took my spiritual director had to remind me are fruits of the spirit; my mind is relaxed in such a way as to return to the parish with fresh eyes, as well as importantly returning with food for the table!

Last week I read in the Church Times of the clergy of history who have on occasion neglected their flock for the river-bank. I’m no clergyperson, have no flock (though responsibilities to a flock) and no wish to neglect anyone, but I’m beginning to understand something of their compulsion to fish. There is a spiritual element to the excercise, and I was intrigued when reading with my husband about the idea of a ‘sixth-day ministry’ that he suggested I explore the idea of leading a fly-fishing retreat and the ideas of patience and preparation as being both those required for fly-fishing and ministry! Something to explore… I wonder if they’ll do a follow-up article on fishing ministers of the 21st Century?!

View from a seat at Alton Abbey... a meadow, alive with the sound of honey bees!

This last 3-4 weeks has seen none of this: I’ve not made it to Alton Abbey nor to a patch of still-water with a rod in my hand. I have missed both, and as I prepare to lead a Pentecost Service I fear that my lack of such creative space, in the face of the emotional needs of myself and others, may mean I don’t offer others the quality of connecting places with God that I know I’m capable of, and by which I seek to serve.

Pragmatically I know it can’t be helped, and I have at least spent a day with my husband at Lord’s … a great, if less spiritually fulfilling experience! However I know that I have a day at the Abbey booked for the end of the month, but it is good to acknowledge that the recognition of need for creative spaces with God needs to be prioritised for me to fulfil my ministry.

There are also still other forms of creative spaces I suspect I can make the most of, spending more time in the garden and returning to the silk-painting, but those are creative spaces at home, and at present I feel more freedom to meet with God when I am away from the phone and the computer!

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Improving relationships

Whilst the decorator is busy doing what he’s being paid for, we continue to live in chaos following our extension. There is a rumour that we can start “moving in” to our own home in ten-days time – but in the mean time live in it! Painting in the extension is complete, the vinyl floored areas will be complete by tomorrow, and the carpets for the other new rooms arrive next week. Getting to know the decorator is interesting; just we discovered a kindred interest in cricket, so I look at the score from Johannesburg and wished I hadn’t – rolled over for 180! Boys what ARE you doing?!

So in the midst of all this, I’ve been ‘working’. It’s the beginning of a new triennial in Mothers’ Union life, with people taking on new leadership roles, including in my case, Head of Marketing and Communication for Mother’s Union in the Diocese of Winchester! (Sounds grand, but till the last essay for University is out the way, I won’t really get to grips with living it out!)

Amongst the stuff I’ve been uploading to our Diocesan website, is a load of stuff to get us thinking about our relationships, as this years theme for Mothers’ Union is “Relationships Not Rules”. Much of the material would be really good for all sorts of home, prayer and Bible study groups, as well as some that just to help you take stock of your own personal relationships. It might be produced by Mothers’ Union but that just means everyone can use it! Do go visit the link and make use of it.

Mothers’ Union also have something called their “Wave of Prayer” which is also all about relationships – international ones! Each Diocese in which there are Mothers’ Union members  has a prayer support relationship with several other diocese, and once a year that little group form the centre of all the prayers of Mothers’ Union members (in 78 countries) worldwide for about 5 days. So I’m gradually updating the information we have about Winchester’s links which include the area of Kitgum in Northern Uganda – as they struggle to overcome nearly 20 years of war, they are struggling against drought, but still working to support family and community relationships by developing a seed bank.

I miss relationships. One of the most significant issues with both Reader Training and our extension, is that we’ve not had time for people, except to ask them favours (and there might be a few more of those asked in the next few days as I’m going to need a light fitting changed, and a radiator dropped for the decorator next week!) It will be really good to start using the new spaces, welcoming people for meals and generally having time for people again. Soon…

And my relationships with wildlife: well, walking the dog shows that there are still at least one Wrens alive on the heath, yesterday produced a lone Stonechat, and today an immature swan flew over heading towards Fleet Pond. There are also still some Fieldfares and Redwings along the lane. However, tussock field is a slog to walk round in the snow at present. I’m looking forward to more time with the wildlife too!

In a sense, I was there

Image095Well, I wasn’t physically at the Oval today to watch the awesome English… but I can say I was at Lord’s for the other English win in their ASHES series win. I can even post this rather fuzzy piccie from the husbands mobile phone to prove we were there for day 3 of the Lord’s Test back on July 18th (our 17th Wedding Anniversary).

I have to say, around our family commitments today we were politely glued to the TMS coverage of this historic day, and stayed with Dad long enough to see the highlights on Five! Freddie’s throw to run out Ponting was a very fitting way to end his Test career, Swann bowled great again, and even dear old Harmi got in on the act!

So I think all that’s needed now is for the gentlemen of ‘Duckworth Lewis’ to write a little ditty to mark the occasion… “In Honour of the Urn”?

Divine Cricket

A fantastic day at Lord’s on Saturday for the Test Match, felt even better yesterday when the guys won the game! We can actually say we were there for at least part of the match that finally broke the Aussie grip on Lord’s tests.

We took delivery of the ‘Duckworth Lewis’ just before we drove to London on Friday, and several of the tracks are fantastic… my favourite being Jiggery Pockery… the wicket described is actually pictured in the Programme for the Lord’s Test!

I am delighted with the link to this video clip (HT to Alec)

BBC SPORT | Cricket | Hannon’s Divine love of cricket leads to album

and I shall be off the find ‘Pedelo’ on the i-tunes download later! Given Freddie’s 5-er has perfomed they definitely must write him a(nother) song.

Would highly recommend listening to this too (heard live during the ‘Welsh’ Test) Max Boyce on TMS at Cardiff

When I can download my mobile phone pics from Saturday, I’ll try and pop one up.

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